How Ohio Mothers Used Alcohol To Cope During COVID-19

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on March 31, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic took a serious toll on Ohio mothers. Many of them tried to numb their stress with alcohol. As the pandemic progressed, they drank less frequently. However, they also became more likely to binge drink.

While the COVID-19 pandemic was stressful for everyone, it hit parents particularly hard. Suddenly, they had to care for their children in complete isolation, often while homeschooling or working from home. 

According to a recent study, these stressors led many Ohio mothers to rely on alcohol

As the pandemic went on, they drank less often. However, when they did use alcohol, they were more likely to binge drink. Binge drinking is a type of alcohol abuse that poses serious risks.

How Ohio Mothers Used Alcohol To Cope During COVID-19

During the past two decades, alcohol use has been rising among women. The pandemic intensified this issue, especially among mothers. Many of them used alcohol to numb the stress of parenting during lockdown. 

At the start of the pandemic, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) sponsored a small study of Ohio mothers under stay-at-home orders. It was recently published in the medical journal Alcohol and Alcoholism. 

The Study

Led by social work professors Bridget Freisthler and Jennifer Price Wolf, the study examined 266 mothers in central Ohio. Most of them were white, married, and well-educated. All of them had children between the ages of 2 and 12. 

The study consisted of three waves: the first took place in spring 2020, the second in spring 2021, and the third in spring 2022. 

Surprising Findings

Over all three waves, 77.8% of the mothers reported drinking alcohol. In the study’s first wave, these women drank on an average of 9.2 days of the previous 28 days. In the second and third waves, that average fell to 6.95 days. 

However, while the mothers’ frequency of drinking decreased over the years, their average number of drinks per day increased. 

In 2020, the mothers consumed an average of 1.47 drinks per day. That number rose to 1.65 drinks in 2021. The following year, it remained mostly unchanged at 1.61 drinks. 

These findings surprised the researchers, who expected the number of drinks per day to decrease along with the frequency of drinking. Instead, the results suggest that mothers became more likely to binge drink as the pandemic progressed.

What Is Binge Drinking?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as drinking to the point where your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.08 percent or higher. Most women reach this BAC after consuming 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. 

A standard “drink” contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. This amount of alcohol appears in 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor. 

Risks Of Binge Drinking

Binge drinking may temporarily ease the stress of parenting. However, it also prevents you from parenting safely and effectively. That’s because alcohol impairs your judgment, memory, concentration, and coordination. 

In addition, binge drinking increases your risk of motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and other accidents. It can even make you more likely to engage in violent behavior. 

Alcohol Poisoning

It also poses a high risk of alcohol poisoning (also called alcohol overdose). This life-threatening condition occurs when you drink so much alcohol that your breathing and heart rate start to shut down. Common symptoms include:

  • pale, clammy, or bluish skin
  • loss of gag reflex
  • slow or irregular breathing
  • slow heart rate
  • nausea and vomiting
  • confusion
  • trouble remaining conscious
  • seizures

Long-Term Health Problems

Over time, binge drinking also increases your risk of long-term health problems such as:

  • digestive issues
  • weakened immune system, which makes you more likely to get sick
  • depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems
  • dementia and other memory problems
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • liver disease
  • certain cancers, including breast cancer, throat cancer, and liver cancer

People who binge drink also face a high risk of alcohol use disorder (alcohol addiction). 

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder makes you feel unable to stop drinking. Other common symptoms include tolerance and physical dependence. 

Tolerance means you need increasingly larger or more frequent drinks to feel the desired effects. Physical dependence means you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and shaking, when you don’t drink alcohol.

Like other types of addiction, alcohol use disorder requires treatment. 

To learn about treatment options, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our inpatient treatment programs offer medical detox, behavioral therapy, and other evidence-based services to help you or your loved one stay alcohol-free.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Drinking too much alcohol can harm your health
  2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Drinking Levels Defined
  3. Ohio State University — Mothers’ alcohol use changed during the COVID-19 pandemic

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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